The air was heavy with the clinging heat of an August night. Strings of lights, motionless in the stillness, illuminated an incandescent swath through the darkness. There was moonlight from a crescent sliver, but not enough to reach the ground where people were settling in on blankets and folding chairs.
On a little make-shift stage in the grass, a trio of young jazz musicians began their first set. The crowd, anonymous in the shadows, nodded with the rhythm, gently tapping fingers and feet. The singer stepped to the microphone. Behind and below, sounds of traffic faded. The medieval city’s facades of stone and clay shimmered in a reddish glow, throwing off the warmth of the day. The fields and hills beyond slipped from sight.
They appeared from the shadows, moving slowly and leaning together so closely that in the darkness they seemed one. Their silhouettes united, the outer edges soft as if worn by time. Dressed heavily in black, they walked with eyes cast down, heads touching. One pale hand trembled on the curve of a cane. Their elbows intertwined, locked by the comfort and habit born of countless hours.
They paused to observe the concert and the crowd. Then, without a word, they continued down their private path. The night took a breath and opened around them. They disappeared, their world uninterrupted by the presence of strangers. This night, the same as those thousands that came before and those they will be lucky enough to have after.
I wondered what it’s like to live so long with another person that words no longer matter. I wondered how it feels to love so simply and deeply that life without the other is unimaginable.
I wondered, when one dies, does only half a person remain?